2023 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix – Friday
WHAT WE LEARNED
- Max Verstappen was the quickest driver of the day. The Red Bull driver set a best time of 1m29.603s using the P Zero Red soft C4. Behind him, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso stopped the clocks on a 1m29.811s, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez 0.91s behind him. It was a closely-fought FP2 session, with all the drivers covered by less than a second a half.
- The second free practice session was more representative of qualifying and the race than the earlier session, with a track temperature of 32°C and air temperature of 26°C. This was considerably different to FP1, when track temperatures reached nearly 40°C. There was more wind in the second session, with gusts up to 24.8kph.
- A high degree of track evolution was noted throughout both sessions. Grip from the tyres increased as evening fell, helped also by running from the various support championships.
- Red Bull and Aston Martin also set the best times in FP1. Verstappen did a 1m29.617s on a set of used soft tyres, 0.483s ahead of Perez. Alonso and Lance Stroll were third and fourth quickest, setting a 1m30.315s and 1m30.577s respectively.
- The fastest driver on the P Zero White hard C2 was AlphaTauri’s Nyck De Vries, who set a 1m31.579s, while Verstappen did the best time for the P Zero Yellow medium C3: 1m29.952s. De Vries and his team mate Yuki Tsunoda completed a total of 21 laps on the soft tyre.
“It was quite an interesting day, especially in the second free practice session. As expected, FP1 wasn’t particularly representative in terms of tyre behaviour, characterised by notably high track evolution. On a track that was completely different to the opening round in Sakhir, the teams concentrated on car setup for the most part. The FP2 session was much more relevant, with nearly all the drivers focussing on the medium and the soft tyres. The main theme for tyres last year was managing front degradation, which was mainly down to degradation. The first analysis of the long runs indicates that this year’s new construction that was designed to reduce understeer, along with the better overall balance of the 2023 cars, has practically eliminated graining on the hard and medium. There’s still some graining on the soft – especially on the front-right tyre – but this doesn’t significantly influence performance over long runs. The constantly evolving track conditions and improvements to the setup that teams will make in FP3 suggest that a one-stop strategy using medium and soft is most likely for the race, also because there’s a relatively small performance gap of 0.4 seconds between these two compounds, which makes both valid options for the race.”
Number of the day: 27
Jeddah is the circuit with the highest number of corners in Formula 1: 27 in total throughout the 6.174-kilometre lap, made up of 16 left-handers and 11 right-handers. The forces exceed 4.5g in Turns 8 and 9, which are among the most demanding on the tyres within the opening sector. In this part of the track, from the entry to the first corner after the straight right up to Turn 12, the drivers are constantly changing direction for almost 25 seconds. The fastest corners are instead Turns 21 and 26, taken at a peak speed of 320kph.
PIRELLI IN MOTORSPORT
Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 116 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, and will reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.